Why Gear Doesn’t Matter – and Why it Does
I have to admit, with winter finally just starting to ease up, I haven’t been shooting as much as I’d like. The cold brings about longings for fireplaces, hot chocolate, and warm blankets, not standing outside pretending that you’re not freezing your toosh off. So, what have I been doing with my time?
Not doing my school work, that’s for sure. I’ve developed a pretty nasty habit of procrastination, resulting in staying up until all hours of the night finishing things I need to get done. So what am I doing while I’m not studying accounting or management? I’m learning. Learning about photography: techniques, business, marketing, and all sorts of things related to this newfound passion in my life. I want to grow. To perfect my craft. To define my direction and style.
This is all made possible, mostly in part, by relationships. Relationships with photographers near and far. I have a couple close-knit photographers that I know personally, but a lot of the relationships I’ve been forming are online. Facebook is a great tool, but I absolutely love the [ b ] school community. It’s still in its growing phase, and a lot more will be implemented in the next few months, I’m sure, but even now, I’m completely satisfied. There are videos, images galleries, and my favorite: forums. I really like to spend my time reading about other people’s businesses – what they excel at, what they struggle with, how they handle different situations – you name it, it’s on there.
One that came up not too long ago was the difference between high-end camera equipment and starter gear. Now, I’m the first to admit, that I made a mistake when I was shopping around for my first dSLR. I went for the cheapest thing I could get my excited little fingers on without pausing to think about the long term. Did I realize I would outgrow this camera within a year? No. But I am in the beginning stages of upgrading (read: saving), so this topic really caught my eye. The question was whether or not it was okay for seasoned photographers to still shoot with “starter” gear. A ton of great points were brought up, but essential theme throughout was that the gear does not make the photographer. New gear should only be purchased when the current gear limits and prohibits the desired look.
For example, you can’t expect an 18-55mm kit lens to produce the type of bokeh that most photographers look for. In the same way, you can’t rely on a Canon Rebel to get a decent looking image in that extra dark basement (at least not my basement!). If those are the shots you need or want, then yes, you would want to upgrade your gear. But the biggest thing to remember is that having the best, most expensive gear won’t do you ANY good if you don’t know how to use it. Photographers have been making great images for decades and haven’t always had the Canon 1D or 5DMII. Yes, if you know what you’re doing, these camera bodies will make your images so much better. But you can’t just pick up a top-of-the-line camera, turn it on, and expect it to make magic. Aaron, a fellow [ b ] schooler, jokes: “Hey everyone, I just bought a paint brush and a paint pallet from Michael’s. I should now be able to paint the Mona Lisa right? But what do you mean? I bought the SAME brush Leonardo used.” While it’s a hilarious quote, unfortunately, a lot of people assume it’s the equipment that makes the photos, not the photographer. Rengie disagrees: “You can give a disposable camera to a seasoned photographer and I bet you he/she can make better photos than an amateur with a hassy H4D.”
So, that is just my opinion. You may agree or disagree. But in other news, speaking of new equipment, I’ve always been impressed with the effects tilt-shift lenses produce. However, I don’t exactly have money to drop on one, and I don’t exactly understand Lensbabies. So, a while ago, I came across a technique that replicates this effect without having the specialty gear: freelensing. Then I forgot about trying it, and came across another guide yesterday, and decided to try it. So, here are my first couple tries. It’s super hard, but I’m determined to master it.
What do you think? Do you like the effect? Check out the freelensing flickr group – some of the images are amazingly dreamy. Happy Monday!